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Honda CB750 – Nick Perna


Posted on November 4, 2015 by Andrew in Café Racer. 20 comments

Whether we’re in the back shed tinkering with our bike or blasting down the road there is a freedom and stress release to motorcycling that cannot be denied. But when your job is literally keeping people alive while they undergo heart surgery the need to relax after work becomes that much more important and so it is that Nicolas Vincent Perna a Cardiovascular Perfusionist from Canada spends his winters building a different bike each year. Nick has a love for low mileage classic Honda’s but having been born in Italy just south of Rome he has a soft spot for the Bologna beasts too. So when he tracked down this 1982 Honda CB750 with just 4000 miles on the clock he saw an opportunity to create one very special Honda with some Ducati sauce and a side of Britain’s best for one hell of a ride.

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For the single sided swingarm conversion Nick found a near new 2012 Ducati Monster 1100 Evo and was able to secure the entire back half of the bike, a very clever decision as retro fitting other components can become very tricky. Fitting such a unique and far more modern swingarm to an older frame leaves only two options for fitment, modifying the frame or modify the swingarm to fit. Nick chose the latter and it’s a sensible choice as such changes at such a crucial mounting point can drastically alter the integrity of the frame. Also a more than handy woodworker, he’s built all the furniture in his home, Nick knows the importance of measure twice cut once (He measured a lot more than twice). Knowing the exact figures he machined the swingarm down removing a few millimetres of material from each side and using custom bronze shouldered bushings fitted the Ducati rear into the Honda frame with the standard axle.

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With such an impressive rear the front could hardly be left standard and Nick didn’t settle for anything less than the quality 41mm Kayaba telescopic USD forks from a 2012 Triumph Street Triple. The new rear increased the wheelbase by 1 inch while the bike is now 2.5inchs lower overall and it’s safe to say the handling is now light years ahead of a stock ’82 Honda. Having acquired the new front and rear as complete units there is also the advantage of their modern lightweight wheels and quality braking equipment.

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Up front the cast aluminium Triumph wheel is pulled to a halt by twin 308mm discs with two piston calipers. The rear Ducati wheel is also light weight alloy and provides a Single 245mm disc with a two piston caliper for stopping power. The modern componentry and quality Michelin rubber not only looks the business it works amazingly well too, with Nick reporting the bike to track dead straight and eat up the miles with ease.

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Powering the 1982 Honda is of course the legendary air-cooled four-cylinder that made the CB750 such a legend, this later model example being the DOHC 16 valve version. With the big ugly airbox gone the bank of four 30mm Keihin carburettors now breathe through a set of aftermarket filters and the crank case breather has been given the same treatment. But the pièce de résistance is that exhaust system, the CB Honda’s have always responded well to breathing modifications but Nick has taken that to a whole new level.

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Kemp Archibald of Ripple Rock Racers helped to organise the one-off custom system built by Hindle Exhaust Systems for the DOHC motor, a first for Hindle. Fabricated from ultra-thin wall stainless the entire system weighs just 2.5kgs and the finishing touch was done by Mr Lang Hindle himself. With the modifications to the downtube the battery and associated electrics are now hidden away under the seat and along with the refinished engine makes for an extremely tidy look.

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With so many modern touches and high-end technology the original character of the Honda shines through in the visuals, the new rear hoop finished in chrome a nod to the touring-cruiser the CB750 had become in the US by 1982. The seat itself is standard, albeit with a host of customisation by Nick who insists on a saddle that can keep him comfortable for hours at a time. Reshaped and recontoured before being recovered it retains much of the visual appeal of the standard item with a nod to café racers in the rear hump. The custom paint on the standard tank really hits the mark, the painted on knee pads give a unique touch and the finishing piece are Nick’s own NVP Cycles logos. The standard plastic side panels are long gone and in their place is stainless flat bar with stainless perforated sheet covering, tigged together before being sandblasted and given a coat of clear.

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Controls are a mix of old and new, the flat bars and risers are part of the Triumph front end from the Street Triple, while the switchblocks are classic Honda. Some may have been tempted to use the alien eye headlights off the Triumph as well but it only takes one step too far to ruin a build and Nick got that balance just right with a classic big single unit. Instead that more modern touch is saved for the rear end where twin clear taillights with a numberplate holder look right at home hanging over the trick Ducati swingarm.

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Keeping it all legal is the single mirror and the two bar end amber indicators that give a hint to a way Nick rides. Sat up on his comfy seat in style, that Honda four barking through the stainless pipes with every crack of the throttle and when the twistys come it’s time for a little fun as Triumph, Ducati and Honda grip the road giving a sure sign those long Canadian winters are over and our medical mechanic has the sort of down time he deserves.








  • guvnor67

    Awesome!!!! Reminds me a bit of the Streetfighters from the late 80s/early nineties (in a good way!) Yup, well done!

  • Theres some very intelligent work that’s gone into this bike. I dig the majority of it. Weird thing to me is: It looks like the top half of the bike was designed by someone completely different than the guy who made the bottom half happen. The entire seat area just doesn’t work with the rest of the bike. Distracts from all the really good work done all over.

    • Patat01

      Couldn’t agree more… V strange indeed!

  • Jim Stuart

    Oh Canada…what’s with that seat!

  • reddog

    Some nice work, I think your going to get a lot of comments on the seat!! Would look good with the Ducati seat unit to go with the swingarm.

  • cab305

    Nope. Looks all wrong, and probably handles like a school bus.

    • Nick perna

      the bike handles awesome, it tracks straight and true, luvs the twisties,

      • cab305

        I hope you are not offended by my post it was not my intention.
        After all it’s your bike and if you like it, that is all that matters. This site usually does not hold back (One of the reasons I like it), I’m working on a bike now, hopefully it will be worthy of the sites critique.

  • I kinda dig the seat, actually…

    • guvnor67

      Me too

  • The seat/frame-rail sure don’t suit the rest of the bike. And the odd placement of the tachometer draws the eyes in an odd direction.
    Also, the Cafe Racers emblem on the tank should be more original and personal to the builder.
    All the other bits and pieces show some real talent and the Hindle exhaust is just sweet!
    Swap the seat out for something that suits the rest and you’ve got a real winner Nick!

  • Nick perna

    Not sure what the proper etiquette is in regards to posting on our own bike but here goes nothing… i had no idea the seat would be as polarizing as it seems to be.. this seat has started more discussion/debate than i care to remember… i build one bike per year , and i build it to ride. and i have always felt that form should follow function, i’d prefer a comfortable seat to a nice looking seat that was uncomfortable. i have always felt that mother honda built pretty decent comfy seats, so i try and keep as much of the stock cushion as possible and just recontour them, turn them into solo seats, and form a nice solid rear lip to keep my “junk in the trunk” , and then reskin them in high end vinyl for wearability/durability…i have ridden this bike for up to 10 hours straight only getting off to gas up and partake in a beverage myself.. and when i get off this seat , i feel absolutely excellent, i have never heard a person whom rides a stylish flat beaver tail typical type of cafe seat , make that claim… just my humble opinion.. and to correct a slight oversight , i forgot so many details but one that sticks out is also one that gets mentioned often.. the front and rear fenders are both high end true carbon fiber pieces, the gas tank side panels were painted to match that carbon fiber look, and in person they look GREAT, almost like shark skin, in the photo’s they do come across a little like the original rubber knee pads and i have gotten that comment before , i just wanted to pass along that tidbit… NVP

    • guvnor67

      Well, I like your bike A LOT , even before this explanation!!! As I said before it reminds me a bit of the Streetfighters that came out (of the UK and bits of Europe) around the late 80s, early 90s I I mean that in a good way!! The fact that guy built it to RIDE and ride far gives it more kudos!! I’ve seen a lot worse efforts come out of some custom shops so well done sir!!!

    • JorisJ

      hi Nick, I understand the comments can be frustrating. But that’s the way it is when you go on the internet, especially with something custom. Not everybody will like what you have done. That being said, I think this is a superb bike. All the details, the exhaust, the sidecovers, the modern components, etc. are really nice! I don’t like your seat , but you’re right this is probably a more comfortable proposion than the aftermarket stuff. So yes, great bike overall, love the work put into it!

    • Alasdair Sykes

      It seems to me that as a builder you really can’t win with regards to the seat! Prevailing opinion seems to be that if it’s form-over-function then you’re a wannabe hipster with an impractical bike, and if it’s function-over-form then it’s ugly and jars with the rest of your build, whatever that is. I definitely get that there’s a balance to be struck but it seems that the builder walks a fine line indeed if they care about public opinion. I say do it your way, keep your nads well cushioned and don’t apologise! Great bike by the way 😉

    • Congratulations on being featured! Getting your machine recognized by a taste-maker like Pipeburn should be an honor to any builder.
      As other comments have mentioned, there is also a “dark side” to exposure.
      You have to understand that the bikes come from the factory function-biased already. If you really want a 10hr rideable, touring bike like you describe, that functionality already exists in another, purpose built form.
      In my opinion, it is the art of the builder to temper functional form and aesthetics so that they are integrated. More so than the corporate bureau every could anyhow. When this integration falls short (in the eye of the beholder), people start calling it out. Meanwhile, keep building what you like. You’ve already got some new fans. “Feedback is a gift”, some folks say. Sometimes you can get crappy gifts though…
      Thus is custom world.

      • Nick perna

        WOW, very well spoken sir….I agree with you 100%… and you are obviously much more articulate than I…..thank you for the well thought out words…nvp

        • jlgace

          Some people say seat, I say ass pillow. Love it. I really want to sit on it in an unhealthy way. Perhaps this is truly an artful move. Does everything art have to be pleasing to the eye? What about music? Reminds me of the seats in my old Buick Park Ave. I wish the seat that came with my daily rider was good for a full hour let alone 10.

          • Nick perna

            Thanks jlgace,,,that’s how I feel, it’s nice to look at it, but it has to be comfy first and foremost , I have sat on the common ” beaver tail ” seats and I couldn’t ride those bikes for ten minutes , so then what’s the point,,,my bikes are built to ride….and ride I DO….nvp

          • Floki

            Nick, nice bike!! Can I ask you how did you mount shock to the frame, maybe you have close pictures?